'Bright' - Movie Review

Urban fantasy has come into its own as a written form in the last twenty years, but it's only just beginning to crack the movie market. Wikipedia defines "Urban fantasy":

Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy in which the narrative has an urban
setting.  Works of urban fantasy are set primarily in the real world and
contain aspects of fantasy, such as the discovery of earthbound
mythological creatures, coexistence or conflict between humans and
paranormal beings, and other changes to city life.  A contemporary setting
is not strictly necessary for a work of urban fantasy ...

In the case of Netflix's "Bright" we have a modern day L.A. where there are Orcs and Elves (and a lot of other fantasy creatures, but those are the ones that matter) - and they've been around as long as humans have. (And yet L.A. developed into almost exactly the same city as it is in our world ... I find that a bit improbable.) The credits make it clear that there's a lot of racial tension between these three dominant races. Will Smith is Daryl Ward, an LAPD officer who's been burdened with the city's first Orc police officer (Nick Jakoby played by Joel Edgerton) as a partner. Orcs are despised by most humans, and Ward's fellow officers seem to particularly hate Jakoby. These reluctant partners go out on patrol and become entangled in a 2000 year old prophecy involving a wand ("this is like a nuclear weapon that grants wishes"), an Elf thief, and another particularly malicious Elf who owns the stolen wand (Noomi Rapace - a talented actress completely wasted on a one-note performance).

About the title: a "Bright" is a person (of whatever race) who can handle a magic wand. Most Brights are elves, but about one in a million humans are Brights. The problem is - to find out, you have to grab the wand. And if you're not a Bright, you'll quite literally explode.

The movie is set almost entirely in abandoned industrial buildings, and at night - it's not pretty to look at. The effects and make-up are very good. It's violent, and not exactly deep: it's essentially a buddy cop movie about a bad night that involves magic, gangs, and typical buddy cop movie bonding. The only thing that sets this apart is that it involves magic and multi-species racism. I think they were trying to make some sort of statement about racism, but it kind of got lost in the haze. Personally, I think the world needs more urban fantasy movies and I enjoyed it for that alone, but this is no masterpiece.

As an aside, the more I think about it the less correct my statement about a dearth of Urban Fantasy movies seems. One particularly obvious entry is the cheesy/wonderful "Highlander," but there are many others like "Underworld" and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice." Hell, even the TV show "Bewitched" probably qualifies as Urban Fantasy ...